Born in a barn in 1909, Leo Fender seems an unlikely father of rock ’n’ roll. But as the man whose company perfected the solid-body electric guitar, his contribution to contemporary music cannot be overstated. Just take a look at the albums whose musicians thought enough of their Fender guitar to put it on the cover: Eric Clapton’s "Layla," Bruce Springsteen’s "Born To Run," Jeff Beck’s "Wired," The Pretenders’s (Chrissie Hynde) "Get Close," Bonnie Raitt’s "Nick of Time." The list of influential artists who play a Fender is just about endless.

Fender’s first solid-body electric guitar was introduced in 1950. It debuted as the one-pickup Esquire before the name of the two-pickup model was changed to Broadcaster. But Gretsch was already using the name Broadkaster on some of its instruments, so the name was changed again.

Between names, the company made the most of its remaining Fender Broadcaster decals by cutting off the word Broadcaster so that only the Fender brand made it onto the guitar’s headstock. Today, collectors call these guitars Nocasters. Only about 60 Nocasters were made, which makes them extremely collectible, but by April of 1951 the guitar would finally get a name that would stick, the Telecaster.

The Stratocaster came next in 1954. Unlike the Telecaster, whose ash body was outlined with rib-digging 45-degree edges, the Strat had a sculpted body that fit players like a glove. Three pickups gave the instrument unprecedented tonal range, as did a vibrato bar that would bend the guitar’s strings when pressed. And instead of the Telecaster’s blond, natural-wood finish, the Strat was offered in a number of colors, including the iconic sunburst (golden-yellow in the middle fading to black on the outside).

Solid-body electric bass guitars were also a Fender innovation. The Precision bass was introduced in 1951. It had a headstock that was virtually identical to that of the Telecaster and a body that turned out to be a preview of the 1954 Strat. By 1957, the Precision’s headstock had been redesigned to mirror the Stratocaster’s, and that version of the bass remains largely unchanged today. The Jazz Bass was added to the low-octave lineup in 1960, and a six-string bass was offered in 1961.

Fender launched two other major guitar lines in the 1950s. The first of these was a pair of low-cost models, the Duo-Sonic and the Musicmaster, both of which were introduced in 1956. These guitars were for kids who wanted to learn how to play without having to shell out the big bucks for a Stratocaster ($274.50 for a Strat versus $119.50 for a Musicmaster). The other initiative was a high-end guitar called the Jazzmaster, which retailed at the time for $329.50. It had a rosewood fingerboard on the standard maple neck, and switches that let the guitarist bounce between rhythm and lead sounds.

In 1962, Fender introduced the Jaguar, which combined a Jazzmaster body with a Stratocaster head. The Mustang, an update of the Duo-Sonic, was added in 1964. Years later, Nirvana...

But the 1960s are best known as the decade when Jimi Hendrix did things to his Stratocaster that nobody had thought possible, from setting it on fire to playing wailing, psychedelic versions of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Alas for Fender, it was also the decade that the company was sold to CBS—for Fender purists, the years 1965 to 1985 are like a 20-year musical drought.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Vintage Guitars Info

Vintage Guitars Info

This great reference site features detailed sections on vintage guitar makers, including Gibson, Fender, Martin, Gr… [read review or visit site]

Vintage Guitar and Bass

Vintage Guitar and Bass

Want to see all the old brochures and ads for your favorite vintage axe? Check out this great site, which showcases… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1982 Fender Japan Telecaster Tl52-95 Jv-serial Bld Rare !!1959 Fender Stratocaster, The Real Deal! Fender Usa Deluxe Stratocaster, No Reserve, Oshc, Sunburst, American Strat 2012Fender Contemporary Deluxe Telecaster Vintage 1985 Made In Japan! No Reserve1983 Fender Japan Stratocaster St62-85 Jv-serial Sunburst Rare !!Fender Blackface Bassman Amplifier Head Ab165 Vintage 1960s Black Face Tube Amp1959 Fender Musicmaster Electric Guitar Usa American Classic Vintage Needs WorkFender Road Worn '60's Stratocaster Olympic WhiteFender Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster®, Rosewood Fingerboard, Olympic WhiteVinatage 1966 Fender Vibro Champ Amplifier Aa764- Not A Re-issueFender Blues Junior Amplifier With Billm Mods. Made In Covina Ca. Usa RelistedVintage Fender Bassman Speaker Cabinet 1966 Original Jensen Speakers With CoverFender Usa Natural Ash Telecaster, Mint Tele. No Reserve, Extra Pickup, 2013Fender Telecaster Custom Tangerine Metallic! Int'l Bidders Welcome! No Reserve!!Vintage Fender Princeton Reverb-amp Aa764 In Very Good ConditionGibson Eb-2d Eb2d Bass Guitar Rare Walnut Finish 69-73. W. Fender Jazz StringsUsed Fender 2011 Jeff Beck Strat Stratocaster Artist Series W/ Hard Case & CandyFender Japan Jazzmaster Jm66 3ts !!1989 Fender Stratocaster Plus Strat Rare Olympic White!!! Ohsc Vintage1964 Fender Tremolux Amplifier Fender Telecaster Standard Mim 2007 W/ Case Excellent! Fender Champion Lap Steel Guitar 1950's Pre Cbs Original Tweed Case Nice! #6324 Fender Stratocaster 6-string Electric Guitar W/ Hard Case *made In Mexico* 1968 Fender Bassman Amp Head, Drip Edge, Silverface, Serviced **clean Sound**1975 Fender Bassman Ten Tube Amplifier Chassis 2x6l6 Bass / Guitar Amp ProjectFender 1968 Sanded American Telecaster Bass Body Fender Duo-sonic 1964Vintage Ri Fender Strat Tele G&g Brown Hardshell Case Stratocaster Telecaster1966 Fender Coronado Ii Vintage Player Electric Guitar W Hard Shell CaseFender Stratocaster Hardtail*vintage 1979*all Original*no Reserve*2006 Fender Stratocaster Custom Shop Custom Classic-sea Foam GreenFender Deluxe Stratocaster Mim, W/ American Deluxe Loaded Pickguard, Lace SensorVintage 1950's Fender Champ Lap Steel Guitar Original Tweed Case 2001 Fender Hss Fat Stratocaster Mexico Mim Agave BlueTele Telecaster Guitar Neck Musikraft Fender Licensed Quartersawn / RosewoodStrat Stratocaster Guitar Neck Musikraft Fender Licensed Roasted Riftsawn MapleVintage 1977 Fender Champ Guitar Amplifier Silverface- Not A Re-issueFender Deluxe Active Jazz V Electric Bass Guitar*2001*mim*5-string*no Reserve*Fender Modern Player Telecaster Thinline Deluxe Body W/tremolo-vibrato LoadedFender Stratocaster Strat Kahler Trem Mij Spyder Electric Guitar 1988 Japan 2001 Fender Stratocaster Floyd Rose Hss Fender Thinline Tele Telecaster Warmoth Body Aaaaa Quilted Maple On Swamp AshFender Squier Bullet Electric Guitar W/ Black Body, Pickguard & MachinesEarly 1965 Fender Princeton Reverb - Fender Electric Instruments FeiNear Mint 2011 Fender Tele Telecaster Maple Neck Medium Jumbo Frets 9.5 RadiusFender American Special Stratocaster*2014*mint*60th Anniversary*no Reserve*Fender 0310005 Squier Bullet Strat Electric Guitar Arctic White 169258 HFender Jazz Bass Made In JapanFender Classic 50s Stratocaster Electric Guitar, Surf GreenIbanez Black Eagle Bass, Vintage Ibanez, Fender Jazz Bass Shaped, Nirvana, JapanFender Stratocaster American Deluxe Usa W / Ohsc S-1 Switch 2005 Year! No Reserv1952 Fender Telecaster Blackguard Serial Bridge Plate 1953 Esquire Rare Project!50's Strat Stratocaster Guitar Body Musikraft Fender Licensed 1 Piece AshVibroverb Head Amp - Mint! - Super Reverb Sounds - Blackface Fender Parts! Srv1992 Sunburst Stevie Ray Vaughan Fender Stratocaster Made In Usa Se 920361 *usedFender Modern Player Telecaster Bass Natural Finish Mint Condition1950' Fender Champ Lapsteel Guitar With Original CaseFender Sonoran Acoustic Electric GuitarStrat Stratocaster Guitar Neck Musikraft Fender Licensed Flame / Pau FerroVintage 1963 Fender Deluxe 6g3 Guitar Amplifier- Not A Re-issue

Recent News: Fender Guitars

Source: Google News

Electric Etudes: U2's The Edge
Premier Guitar, February 28th

Edge's guitar parts are perfectly crafted, full of hooks, and offer an incredible amount of melody. He's also a master of creatively using effects in order to best serve the song. ... Finally, end with a 16th-note pattern in the upper register over a D...Read more

Guitar display opens Saturday at ridge museum
Oroville Mercury Register, February 26th

A collection of guitars owned by Jim Campbell will be on display for the at the Gold Nugget Museum, 502 Person Road in Paradise, starting Saturday. A reception will take place 5-9 p.m. Saturday featuring performances by local musicians as well as an...Read more

Young brothers pick North East for new music store, February 22nd

"I had a Fender Stratocaster, or a Fender Strat guitar, and brought it to several places because it wasn't playing the way I wanted it to play,'' Marzano said. "I have a heavy hand, and when I put fingers on the strings and they go out of tune, and...Read more

'The Butterfly Effect': Hundreds attend Vintage Affair fundraiser for cancer
Montgomery Advertiser, February 21st

Even more wines, wine dinners, special vacation get-aways, a Fender guitar signed by Smokey Robinson, and a Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 23-year bourbon (perhaps the rarest American whiskey ever), were among the 33 specially-selected live ...Read more

Home > Blogs > Twin Reverb: The Curious Convergence of Cars and Guitars
Motor Trend (blog), February 17th

If you think the inspiration for the Fender Jaguar electric guitar, first produced in the early 1960s, had nothing to do with the automotive brand, take one look at the vintage advertisement showing a guitarist playing a Fender Jaguar while leaning on...Read more

How Carmel's Rumble Seat Music owner went from rocker to vintage guitar ...
Monterey County Herald, February 17th

Rumble Seat Music buys and sells premium vintage guitars. The walls of the store are adorned with electric Gibsons, Rickenbackers, Gretsches, Fenders, acoustic Martins and instruments built by boutique luthiers. There's a Fender Telecaster once owned...Read more

Vintage Vault: 1963 Fender Esquire Custom and 1962 Fender Super
Premier Guitar, February 1st

The elegant Esquire Custom featured a rosewood fretboard, a detail Fender had previously offered on their Jazzmasters. The Esquire was officially unveiled in April of 1950 as Fender's first standard electric solidbody guitar. It originally had one...Read more

Feedback Mixed Over Guitar Maker Fender's Move to Online Sales
KQED, January 31st

As he gingerly placed a vintage-looking sunburst-colored Fender guitar back on the rack I asked the Orange County musician if he'd consider buying that same guitar online. “I would. As long as it had a good return policy just in case. But given Fender...Read more